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Professional writer of over 23 years. I started off as a junior reporter for a local newspaper before moving into sport. Spent four years at Teletext Sport with Press Association before being made redundant. Got involved with BettingPro under the previous owner, then after a break came back under Catena Media. Rugby League writer and author with four RL books on sale and one football book.

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Like department stores, sportsbooks need to keep attracting new customers while at the same time rewarding existing customers for their loyalty. The Welcome Bonus and various Betting Offers are how they do this, meaning these promotions are an important part of the bookmaker’s value proposition.

In this guide, we are going to take a comprehensive look at the types of bonuses and promotions being offered by UK bookmakers.

The Different Kinds of Betting Offers

Bonuses and promotions on betting sites in the UK take a variety of forms. In this guide we’re going to go through all the major ones, starting with the Sign-up Bonus.

The Sign-up Bonus and How it Works

Sign-up Bonuses are an essential part of an online bookmaker’s marketing strategy. They’re intended to catch the eye of the new customer and spur them to action.

Most Sign-up Offers fall into 1 of 3 categories: Deposit matches, Bet X and Get Y, or bet guarantees, i.e. the company will cover your initial losses up to a point.

The Deposit Match

With a Deposit Match the bookie matches your first deposit with a Free Bet or Free Bets, (often referred to interchangeably as “Bet Credits”). So if you deposit, say, £20 they’ll give you £20 in Free Bets. If the bookmaker is feeling particularly generous the deposit match may be as high as £50 or even £100 (although those are pretty rare). Be aware that there are always T&Cs that dictate things like the payment gateway you must use to make the deposit.

Bet X and Get Y

This type of bonus stipulates that if you bet X amount you will earn Y amount worth of Free Bets. In most cases, the Y value will be 2 or 3 (or more) times larger than what the punter has to put down to claim it. For example, we have seen various Welcome Bonuses recently that provide the new customer with £20 or £30 in Free Bets if they make a qualifying deposit of just £10. The Free Bets are usually in the form of 1 or sometimes 2 Bet Credits that add up to the bonus amount.

Bet Guarantees, or the Risk-Free Bet

With a Bet Guarantee, the bookmaker covers your initial bet of X amount, or your initial bets totalling X amount. So if the company offers a £30 Risk-Free Bet that means they will cover your losses up to £30. Of course, they’re not going to put cash in your account if you lose. What you’ll get instead is the right to place Free Bets up to, in the case of our example, £30.

How Companies Can Do This

It might seem that betting offers like these risk undermining the company’s finances. But the various betting sites have some pretty sharp accountants working for them and they have determined that if they give a little now, they’ll get a lot later from the punter. And besides, in most cases, these bonuses don’t cost the sportsbook anything.

How’s that? Well, in most cases they’re not offering cash. They’re offering Bet Credits or Free Bets. So the customer signs up, makes the requisite deposit, makes a qualifying bet and is issued, say, £20 in Bet Credits. They then place a few more bets with their credits and, regardless of the outcome, the company hasn’t lost anything because A) they never gave the customer cash, only the right to place some free bets, and B) odds are those Free Bets won’t pay off anyway. (On the other hand, they might.)

The goal of all this is to get you to open an account and become a regular bettor on the site. Because if you do, the odds also dictate they will end up making a profit that outstrips any losses they may have incurred to get you to sign up.

What to Look For When Considering Betting Offers

Now let’s consider the larger question of betting offers in general, not just Welcome Offers. The best betting offers have the following characteristics in common:

They’re Easy to Understand

You shouldn’t need a solicitor to figure out a Welcome Bonus. Once or twice through the T&Cs should be all you need to have a complete understanding of how to claim it. If the wording of a bonus seems complex, contradictory or just plain confusing it should be a red flag.

They Offer Real Value

You no doubt have your own idea of what constitutes value, but for us, the bookmaker’s value proposition has to be at least 1 to 1, especially when it comes to their Sign-up Bonus. That means they will match your deposit pound for pound up to a certain amount, or they will match the amount you wager with Free Bets of at least equal value, or they guarantee your first wager or wagers up to the initial deposit amount. So for us, offers like “Deposit £20 and get £10 in Free Bets”, or “Deposit £30 and get some free spins in the casino” don’t make the grade.

The T&Cs Are Reasonable

Terms & Conditions exist to plug potential loopholes. That’s understandable. After all, you don’t want to offer a £50 Free Bet Bonus Offer without putting some kind of time restriction on it, or specifying that it can only be claimed once by new customers. If your Welcome Offer is devoid of conditions people would be exploiting loopholes until your bookmaking site went broke.

So T&Cs are necessary. But that said, they should not be unreasonable. If, for instance, the bookie limits you to one type of qualifying bet on one specific market with outrageous odds, you stand little chance of cashing in the offer. Make sure the bookmaker offers fair terms on their bonuses and promos before signing up with them.

There Are Plenty of Qualifying Markets

What good is a betting offer if it’s almost impossible to place a qualifying bet? No good. All promos and bonuses come with restrictions that lay out what you can and cannot bet on to claim them. But a promo isn’t much good if it doesn’t let you flex your gambling muscles a bit by permitting you some leeway when it comes to defining what a qualifying bet is.


Variety is the spice of life. But more than that it’s what prevents you from becoming bored as hell. Any online bookmaker worthy of the name will make an attempt to mix things up and offer you a variety of different types of promos and bonuses. That includes app-only bonuses, Acca bonuses, Extra Place offers and more.

The Big Picture

Sometimes it might make sense to sign up for a betting site that doesn’t offer the absolute best promos and bonuses, IF their wider sportsbook is a thing of wonder. After all, promotions aren’t much good if the app or website only offers a limited number of markets in a limited number of sports.

In that case, they can promote all they want but if there’s nothing there that rings the customer’s bell it won’t matter. So before you reject “Bookmaker A” because their Sign-up Bonus seems underwhelming, see what else they have to offer.

About Betting App Offers

These days there are 5 times as many internet-ready smartphones as there are PCs, and about 4 million smartphone apps, most of which are free to download. That includes apps for all the major (and minor) UK betting sites. There are even sportsbooks that are entirely app-only, with SBK being a prime example.

So it no longer makes sense for bookmakers to only optimise their sites for PCs and laptops when most of their customers are filtering in through smartphone apps. Instead, they (the bookmakers) need to acknowledge the new reality and play to it. One way they do that is to offer app-only bonuses and promotions.

Almost all the major UK betting sites now offer app-only promotions as part of their suite of ongoing existing customer promos. They also make all their standard promos available through their mobile app. One site we know of even has a requirement that you must spend 1 of the Free Bets you receive as part of their Welcome Bonus on a mobile device.

As we move forward, you can be sure that app-only promos and bonuses are going to become the norm rather than the exception.

As we mentioned at the outset, most Sign-up Offers fall into 1 of only 3 categories. However, when it comes to existing customer promotions and bonuses the number and variety is staggering. Here is just a small sampling of some of the most popular betting promos out there today.

Acca Insurance Promos

There’s nothing quite so deflating as having an acca come in 1 leg short of success. Bookmakers understand this which is why so many offer acca insurance promos to their existing customers.

The typical acca insurance promo stipulates that if only 1 of your acca selections comes up short the bookmaker will refund your entire stake. T&Cs usually include the requirement that your acca contain at least 3 or 4 selections, and the refund will usually take the form of Free Bets rather than cash.

Acca Boost Offers

Acca boost promos have become incredibly popular with punters in recent years and it’s easy to see why. This type of promotion boosts the size of your acca payout with the boost increasing in step with the number of selections on your acca.

So a successful acca with 3 selections might be boosted by 5%, while a 5-fold acca might see something like a 20% winnings boost. If you land a 10-fold acca you might be looking at something really insane like a 70 or 80% boost in winnings.

Enhanced Odds Promos

Enhanced odds are often referred to as “odds boosts” and can be found on most of the top betting sites in the UK. Enhanced odds provide a way for the punter to get closer to the true price of the bet. Odds on display on a betting site do not reflect the true, mathematical probability of an outcome because the bookmaker always factors in their profit margin.

In essence, enhanced odds are a case of the bookmaker deciding to reduce their profit margin on a particular market, bringing the odds (and the potential payout) closer to what it would be if there were no middleman involved.

Guaranteed Best Odds

Best odds guarantees are exclusively related to horse racing and stipulate that if the starting price on your winning horse was better than the odds at the time you placed your wager, the horse will payout at the better odds.

Conversely, if the original odds you got when you placed the bet wind up better than the odds at post time you’ll be paid out at the original, higher odds.

Extra Places Promotions

This too is a horse racing promo, and a very popular one at that. Punters appreciate this type of promo because while it’s not likely to produce any significant payouts, the extra places do provide them with a way to mitigate their losses.

The Loyalty Rewards Club

As competition in the UK online gambling industry has intensified, bookmakers have been scrambling to find ways to both attract and hold on to customers. The Loyalty Rewards Club is one of the results of those efforts.

Loyalty Rewards Clubs differ from other promotions in that “membership” is based entirely on how much a person bets on the site. The only way to become a member of a Loyalty Rewards Club is to bet a lot of money over an extended period of time.

If that sounds to you like the definition of a “high roller”, you’re right. This type of high-end bonus program used to be reserved exclusively for those legendary big spenders. But because competition for customers is so hot and heavy these days, many bookmakers have opened the door to this type of deal to more people by lowering the amount that needs to be spent. It’s still a lot. But not nearly what was historically considered “high roller” territory.

Getting Familiar with Terms and Conditions

Someone who knew what they were talking about once said “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”. Essentially that means that to get something you either have to give something, or you have to meet a spate of requirements spelled out in a bunch of fine print. When it comes to betting offers that fine print is called the “Terms & Conditions” or “T&Cs”.

The following are some of the most common T&Cs the punter will encounter on UK betting sites.

Minimum Odds

This is one of the cornerstones of the typical Sign-up Bonus. It stipulates that in order for a bet to qualify for matching Free Bets (for example), the odds on your bet must be at least, say, 1/5 (1.20). Always be careful to check the minimum odds before placing promo-related wagers.

Minimum Stake

Whenever you see an offer that states “Bet X and Get Y” the X amount is the minimum stake. That minimum stake will change from offer to offer, but it’s rare to find one that is less than £10.

Eligible Markets

Sometimes a bookie won’t place any restrictions on what markets you can bet on to claim a bonus offer or existing customer promo. But sometimes you will be limited to certain sports or certain events or certain types of bets. It’s vital that you always read the T&Cs before placing a bet related to a promotion.

Qualifying Deposits

When is a deposit not a deposit? When you are trying to claim a betting offer and you discover that the T&Cs stipulated you could only bet with money deposited using certain payment methods. In many cases, money deposited via eWallets like Skrill are not considered qualifying deposits.

Expiration Dates

Nearly all promos and bonuses come with time limits attached. For example, the bookmaker might stipulate that if you want to claim a Welcome Offer you will need to place qualifying bets within 7 days of opening your account. Or that you must use any Free Bets within 30 days of their being issued.

Top Football Betting Offers

No other sport attracts nearly as much attention as football on UK betting sites. All the major and minor online sportsbooks offer extensive football coverage with some of the largest betting sites offering thousands of football markets in a given week.

Because of the betting attention football attracts, online bookmakers go out of their way to provide an array of different football promos and bonuses, both for new and existing customers. It would be impossible for us to go through all the various football betting offers out there, but the following are a fair representation of the type of offers you’ll find as of this writing.

Acca Insurance Offers

If you’re into accas and football, this is one type of promo you don’t want to miss. A typical acca insurance offer will be something like a £10 free bet in return for placing a qualifying acca wager. This kind of promo offer is often applied to other sports as well. But there’s no doubt the bulk of Acca Insurance action is focused on football, specifically Premier League action.

Terms on Acca Insurance Offers are usually pretty particular. For instance, you typically have to make sure each leg of your acca has the right odds or you may eliminate yourself from contention.

Free Bets on Football Multis

Bookmakers are constantly trying to outdo each other in the quest to attract and keep customers. To that end another promo you are likely to see is one that provides a Free Bet on football multis. To take advantage of such a promo you are normally required to stake £10 or £20 on multiples in a given 24 hour period. After your bets have been settled you’ll typically be awarded a £5 or £10 Free Bet. With this kind of football multi-offer, you usually have to be careful which payment platform you use to deposit money or you could run afoul of the T&Cs.

Boxing and MMA Promos

Boxing and MMA have always attracted a lot of attention from punters, maybe because each bout provides so many potential markets. Common boxing and MMA betting offers include:

Round Betting Insurance

With this type of promo, you place a pre-fight bet on which round the fight will end. If your bet pays off you will be rewarded with Free Bets of £5, £10 or £20, depending on the bookmaker and the fight. In most cases, you will need to place a minimum bet of £5 – £10 to qualify.

Claim a Free Bet By Betting Multiples

Several UK betting sites will reward you with a Free Bet of £5 (sometimes more) if you stake at least £20 on multiples in any sport, including boxing or MMA. The type of multiple is generally wide-ranging and may include straight multiples (doubles, trebles etc), or even something as exotic as a Lucky 31 bet.

Top Cheltenham Betting Offers

While football garners the lion’s share of betting action these days, horse racing is never too far behind. People have been betting on the ponies for centuries and major horse racing events like Cheltenham continue to attract punters in droves.

Unlike a one-time betting bonanza like the Kentucky Derby, Cheltenham is a 4-day affair that provides an enormous variety of action. Just the thing to inspire bookmakers to get creative with promos. The following are some examples of the top Cheltenham betting offers out there.

Free Bet When Your Horse Finishes 2nd

This is a popular type of offer for those who love betting on horse races. The way the bet works is that if your selected horse finished 2nd on a singles bet, or as part of an each way, you would be rewarded with a Free Bet worth up to £10. Promos like this are typically available only on select races, and there is usually an expiration date in play when it comes to using the Free Bets you win. Other stipulations usually include things such as there being 5 or more starters in a given race.

Best Odds Guaranteed On All UK & Irish Horse Races

In this case, the word “all” includes all 28 races held at Cheltenham in a normal year. There are several betting sites that run this promo. It is one of the most popular horse racing promos in online UK gambling and can provide a maximum benefit of as much as £25,000 per customer, per day.

With this type of promo you are covered either way because if the starting price (SP) turns out to be greater than the price you took, you’ll be paid out at the higher price. And if the price you took is higher than the SP you’ll be paid at the price you took. T&Cs for this kind of betting offer may vary from bookmaker to bookmaker, so be sure to read the fine print.

Betting Offers: FAQs

Is there a difference between a Sign-up Bonus and ongoing betting offers?

New customer rewards are, as the name implies, only available to those who open a new account with an online bookmaker. They can only be used once, at the time of opening an account. Ongoing promotions are intended to keep existing customers coming back. Without them, it is likely that punters will drift to other sites where they feel they are better appreciated.

Do all online bookmakers provide the same Betting Offers?

No. Offers and promotions vary from bookmaker to bookmaker. Different online sportsbooks emphasise different sports. They are also intent on separating themselves from the competition, so it would be counterproductive if each one offered the same variety of betting offers.

What are the Terms & Conditions on betting offers?

The T&Cs vary from bookmaker to bookmaker and from offer to offer. But there are going to be some type of restrictions – such as time limits and minimum stakes – on virtually every offer, whether a Welcome Bonus or an existing customer promo. It’s important that you read the T&Cs of a given offer to ensure you are able to take full advantage of it.

What are the top UK betting offers?

One person’s favourite is another person’s least favourite. So it’s impossible to say this or that offer is “the best”. That said, while the exact details will vary, all of the top betting offers boast the same general characteristics including outstanding value, fairness, easy-to-understand T&Cs, and a generous return.

Is it worth pursuing Free Bets?

Free Bets are something of a no-lose proposition which is one reason they have become so popular among bookmakers and punters. If you are a punter their main value is in helping you manage and spread risk. If you are a bookmaker they are a cost-effective way to create goodwill without ever having to pony up actual cash. The most common way to obtain Free Bets is through a Sign-up Bonus.

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